‘Concerning the Spiritual In Art’ was published in 1911. In Kandinsky’s theory the artist is the leader capable of inspiring the mass to ascend and advance in the spiritual pyramid of humanity. A few great artists stand tall upon the pyramidion, but if the artist enters a decadent period, the soul will be dragged down to the bottom of the pyramid, where searches for external success pulls the soul in conflicting and destructive directions and silences the spiritual forces.
Viewers of a painting experience the artwork with their 5 senses, but according to Kandinsky, a work of art can also evoke a spiritual effect in which the colour touches the soul itself.
Quote from Introduction
“This all-important spark of inner life today is at present only a spark. Our minds, which are even now only just awakening after years of materialism, are infected with the despair of unbelief, of lack of purpose and ideal. The nightmare of materialism, which has turned the life of the universe into an evil, useless game, is not yet past; it holds the awakening soul still in its grip. Only a feeble light glimmers like a tiny star in a vast gulf of darkness. This feeble light is but a presentiment, and the soul, when it sees it, trembles in doubt whether the light is not a dream, and the gulf of darkness reality. This doubt, and the still harsh tyranny of the materialistic philosophy, divide our soul sharply from that of the Primitives. Our soul rings cracked when we seek to play upon it, as does a costly vase, long buried in the earth, which is found to have a flaw when it is dug up once more. For this reason, the Primitive phase, through which we are now passing, with its temporary similarity of form, can only be of short duration.”